Kalaheo Hillside work nearing completion
For the last three weekends, both Saturday and Sunday and on Monday of the long Memorial Day weekend, the city has had crews building a road on the Kalaheo Hillside. What are they doing, why do they work only on weekends and when will the project be completed?
Answer: The work -- to prevent flooding in the next heavy rainstorm -- may be completed this weekend, but if not, by next weekend, said Mark Matsunaga, spokesman for Mayor Mufi Hannemann's administration.
The workers have been clearing silt, soil and debris washed into a drainage swale by runoff from the heavy rains in February and March. They're also having to clear brush to get to the swale.
Meanwhile, the road was built to get heavy equipment up the hillside in the shortest time possible, Matsunaga said. The road and swale are in a city easement.
The crew is made up of about a half dozen Road Maintenance Division workers from the Department of Facilities Maintenance. They're working weekends because the division is shorthanded.
Road Maintenance workers "are the ones responsible for clearing streams and streambeds, as well as filling in potholes and doing other heavy work all over Oahu," Matsunaga said.
Citing Laverne Higa, director of Facility Maintenance, he said the division suffers from a chronic shortage of staff, with more than 30 percent of the jobs unfilled for various reasons.
Q: Does the Toyota Prius hybrid car get free parking at metered stalls? I saw a hybrid and it had a note on the windshield that said they get free parking.
A: Hybrids may be easier on the environment, but they are not classified electric vehicles and therefore don't qualify for benefits, such as free parking, provided under state law.
According to the state Department of Transportation, the state Legislature passed Act 290 in 1997 to encourage the use of electric vehicles.
Incentives included exemptions from various requirements imposed on conventional, internal combustion engine-powered vehicles, said department spokesman Scott Ishikawa.
Electric vehicles -- affixed with a special electric vehicle license plate -- are exempt from paying parking fees charged by any government agency, except the federal government, he said.
They also are allowed to use HOV (high-occupancy vehicle) lanes with fewer than the required number of occupants.
The goal of Act 290 was to reduce air pollution, improve energy efficiency and reduce the state's dependency on imported oil, Ishikawa said.
To Pepe of Dole Cannery, who found my truck key, which I lost while at the Queen's Medical Center Radiation Department. She refused any reward other than a big hug. Her kindness brought me both to tears and a smile, as my cancer treatment has been wearing me down. -- Norman Sullivan
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